The original Bumblebee from the “G1” era of Transformers was called simply Bumble in Japan for reasons I am not aware of. So while technically this is a Japan exclusive figure I’m going to stick with Bumblebee because that’s the name I know and love. You may recall I have a whole shelf dedicated to this character and a few namesakes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that another one was in my birthday Amazon wish list.

The history of Takara Tomy’s Alternity is tough to go into full detail for so I’ll give you the highlights. Did you ever hear of the Alternators line? It was a series of scaled vehicles that looked like model cars right down to being licensed with an engineering style that led to crazy hard transformations. I own a few and frankly wasn’t a fan because they’re such pains to transform. I know there are collectors who enjoy these puzzle style transformations but I prefer a smooth, fun transformation. In Japan the line was called “Binaltech” and the instructions actually came with chapters of a text adventure whose story isn’t important here. Alternity is a sequel line right down to the engineering and story, but the toys were given a smaller scale and the story a larger one, involving alternate universes, and Bumblebee getting cool dimension-altering powers. To say more would bore the casuals so let’s move on.

To be honest this toy is rather pricey but it’s partly die-cast, highly engineered (more so than Transformers figures usually are), has a lot of parts put together, features licensed vehicles, and is a canceled Japan-exclusive toyline. That last part dropped the price to something slightly more reasonable than you’d pay for it previously here in the US. So let’s take a look at the toy.

Perfect to take Spike and his family out to the park.

While vehicle modes inspired by the Michael Bay movies lean more towards muscle or sport cars, the G1 Bumblebee is usually a compact car since Volkswagen has issues with war toys, thus losing the Beetle form he originally had. (Somehow Takara Tomy was able to use it for the Masterpiece Bumblebee which I would love to own.) So it’s kind of odd that for Alternity they went with the Suzuki Swift Sport. Wikipedia calls it a “sub-compact” but it looks like an SUV to me. Maybe if I saw a Swift in person? I’m sure they have more Bumblebee-like compacts available. I mean, it looks cool but it’s an odd choice given the character, and the Binaltech/Alternity Bumble (I don’t think he had a Binaltech/Alternators toy, but they share the same universe, or same part of the multiverse–long story) being based on G1 Bumblebee.

“Okay, who let the skunk in here?”

Continuing the Binaltech/Alternators theme of working doors and trunks, Alternity Bumblebee has four working doors, a hood, and a tailgate. I’ve seen toy cars with this feature as well; my mom even had some based on her prized PT Cruiser and I’ve seen some in Rite Aid and other places, which are slightly smaller than this toy in vehicle mode. (They don’t have robot modes though.) The engine block is really just a cover that plugs into the guns stored on his robot legs, but the result looks really good.

“That’s why your brakes aren’t working. They aren’t there.”

I don’t know if this was intentional, but the underside is actually more detailed than it needs to be, and looks like a car from underneath for the most part. There’s that gap in the front and his robot head in the back (barely visible when you open the tailgate), but otherwise it’s more accurate than I’d expect.

I tried as best I could to get the face cleaned up in the photo.

Transformation is a bit difficult, but better than the Alternators were for me. The biggest fighter is the legs. The feet (or as close as this toy gets) have to be positioned just right or it tries to push off the front tires, which are rubber like the back tires. This is also a problem with posing them, but we’ll get to posing in a moment. The legs also fight me pretty much every time I try to put him back into vehicle mode but I’ve been getting better (or maybe luckier) with it although I’ve only had the toy a few weeks.

Robot mode looks pretty good. I’ve heard complaints about him and mold mate Cliff (alias Cliffjumper) having a chest that sticks out too far, but I blame that in part on the back part of the remaining vehicle not sloping back but it’s not that much worse than previous G1 Bumblebees using the roof of the car as his chest. The feet are an odd design but I got used to that pretty quickly. I have been having a problem with the right rear view mirror popping off and I don’t use floor polish so that solution is out. (Yes, coating loose Transformer joints and pegs with a thin layer of floor polish is supposed to help. I’ve also heard nail polish but I don’t use that either.) Also, I don’t think the instructions calls for turning the car pieces by the elbow but I think it looks cleaner so that’s what I do.

Fun fact: As an Alternity “auto-avatar”, Bumblebee can turn you into a 2D being. In short, don’t mess with Da Bee!

Articulation isn’t that bad. The head has a good range of motion left and right as well as up and down, although he can only see his Autobot symbol looking down. Shoulder, a bicep, wrist, as well as hips and knees are all good. The car parts do stop his hips short but the range is large enough to not care. If you’re careful that the feet aren’t pushing the tires or leg-mounted guns off they also have a good range. There appears to be a waist joint but it’s so tight on mine I’m not messing with it just in case I’m wrong. The rear view mirror I can live with, but not a broken waist if it turns out there’s no actual joint there or there is and I forced it past the breaking point.

These guns freeze you in time, and I haven’t listed all of Bumblebee’s Alternity powers. DO NOT @#$# WITH DA BEE! HE WILL END YOU!

Alternity Bumblebee comes with two really small pistols (easy to lose or become an accidental baby snack so keep your little ones away from this figure), which is more firepower than most Bumblebees get. They’re small but I’m not kidding at how powerful they are. According to the story and profile that comes with the toy Bumblebee’s guns “fires unique particle projectiles which paralyze the local flow of time, stopping the motion of objects” in addition to all his powers that allow him to float around and mess with X/Y/Z-axes of his enemies plus travel to alternate dimensions and repair paradoxes in reality. Bumblebee is pretty much a god now, although he and the other Alternity Autobots do lose their powers at the end.

Originally collectors in the states would have to pay around $80 between import fees and the regular price of the toy. This was on my Amazon wish list at closer to $45 because it’s been a few years, and considering it’s a die-cast/plastic mix, with a lot of engineering and parts, rubber tires, a Japanese exclusive import, and a licensed vehicle, it may or may not be worth that to you but it’s better than what it was available for. I know this will have a good spot on the Bumblebee Shelf once I make room for him. I’m going to have to completely re-do the shelf now to get everyone on there. It’s worth it.